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policy. Our interests in this matter have thus far been brought into contrast with those of only one other power, but the general policy which we may adopt will have a much wider application. So far as a supply for our own governmental needs is concerned, no question is apt to arise, but the degree to which other nations may get de facto control of Caribbean oil resources may be for us a matter of great importance.
The attention of the Foreign Offices of at least two great nations has already been called to the importance of protecting oil properties. The great English contracting firm, S. Pearson and Son, Limited, have important holdings in Mexico. Since the United States refuses to allow other countries a free hand in dealing with Latin-American countries, this corporation demands that the United States itself assume the responsibility of protecting the property of foreigners. The holdings are of interest to our State Department, not only because of their economic importance, but because of the long-time contracts which the company has with the British Admiralty for the supply of fuel oil for British battleships.
These factors force the United States to consider again the interpretation which is to be placed on the Monroe Doctrine. The control of oil resources may mean a shift in military power in the Caribbean which would make the defense of the established American policy increasingly difficult.
Where the Caribbean oil regions lie within the limits of European colonies they stand in the same position as other resources so far as the United States is con
cerned. Our State Department could raise no objection to their development by whatever means seemed best to the owners. Technically, the same would be true of the regions lying in the Latin Republics. De facto, the United States cannot view the auspices under which the development occurs there with indifference. Especially is this true when the interests of the corporation doing the work would be closely allied to the military interests of the home country.
In fact, the oil holdings of the Pearson syndicate in Mexico seem already to involve a situation the duplication of which the United States may well think to its interest to forestall. In the hands of other than British nationals there is no doubt that these oil holdings would already be a source of anxiety. If, for example, the development had taken place under a Japanese corporation and had occurred on the west instead of the east coast there is little doubt that a great outcry would have been raised in this country.
The recent attempt of the Pearson syndicate to extend its oil holdings to the undeveloped fields of Colombia illustrates both the sensitiveness of American public opinion and the deference paid to it by the English concessionaires. The application for a concession in Colombia is reported to have included the right to prospect for oil anywhere in the public domain in a region covering 10,000 acres. Permission was to be granted to build pipe lines, railways, canals, docks, storage warehouses, refineries, power plants, telephones and telegraphs.
The extensive properties which could be acquired
under such an arrangement, especially the oil-loading facilities, which from the nature of the business would have been built, would have made the seaport where the products of the enterprise were shipped little less than a naval base. In view of the company's close connection with the British Navy, the United States could hardly fail to consider the concession one which seriously affected its interests. Of course, Great Britain is free to establish coaling or oiling stations in Trinidad just as she is free to fortify the Bahamas, but an extension of British control to the source of supply in countries not now under control could not but be unfortunate from the American viewpoint. A similar grant to other nations would have been even more objectionable to the American public. If the grants were confined to British companies there might be little real reason for alarm, for a war between the Anglo-Saxon peoples is unthinkable and British control would at least mean neutral control. But if the grants to one power were unobjectionable no exception ought to be taken to concessions to other powers.
Fortunately, the proposed concession to the Pearsons now appears to be dropped. It was granted by the Ministry and approved by President Restrepo in April of 1913, but the Colombian Senate declined to ratify the action and the Pearsons have announced that, due to the criticism by American public opinion, they will not press the matter further. As a result, Great Britain has turned elsewhere to assure her Navy an oil supply. The failure of the proposed Colombian grant and the uncertainty of the supply from Mexico resulted in an agreement by First Lord Winston Churchill with the Anglo-Persian Oil Company. By this contract the Admiralty, it is reported, acquired for £2,000,000 a controlling interest in the company's wells in two provinces of Persia.
Straws show which way the wind blows. Many people in the United States thought the Lodge Resolution concerning Magdalena Bay, when it passed, an unnecessary affront to a friendly nation and an unwarranted and inadvisable extension of the Monroe Doctrine. Recent developments may show that the policy of the United States must be a frank avowal of the principles of the Resolution, if the Monroe Doctrine is to keep its substance and not become only a form.
In any case, we must realize that the development of the oil fields of the Caribbean is essentially unlike the development of other national resources. Oil is a political, as well as an economic factor, in the development of the region which is necessarily the most important sphere of interest to the United States.
BIG BUSINESS AND THE CARIBBEAN
INTENSIVE development of national resources is not a characteristic of the Caribbean. The exploitation of natural wealth there, as in South America, is as a rule superficial. Attention has been concentrated on the few sources of wealth which bring quick and easy returns.
For this condition there are many reasons, affecting different regions in various degrees. In some cases, the principal obstacle has been disturbed political conditions, and often mistaken fiscal policies have retarded development. The lack of an adequate and reliable labor supply has been another handicap. A more general difficulty, largely rising out of the causes mentioned, has been the lack of capital willing to invest. In our day no country can reach the position it should in the world's commerce unless it has within its borders, or can attract from abroad, the necessary money for the development of its resources.
The capital, which in recent years has sought investment in the Caribbean, has been to a large degree not in the hands of small holders, but controlled by great corporations. These have started their activities in the development of a single product which from its nature it might be impracticable or impossible to handle with small capital. Theirs were enterprises which, handled